FeedVimeoYoutubeFacebookTwitterLinkedinGoogle

Palestinian Prisoner's Day: Israel's Use of Arbitrary Detention as a Tool of Repression and Control of Palestinians

Friday, 20 April 2018 19:55
Print

Another year has gone by in which Israel has used mass arbitrary detentions and arrests as a tool of repression and control of the occupied Palestinian people. This April 17th, as once again we marked Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, Addameer recorded 6,050 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention, including 427 administrative detainees, 356 children, 62 female prisoners, and seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).[1]

The year 2017 shed significant light on the plight of Palestinians, including children, in Israeli detention, through the mass 40-day hunger strike launched by Palestinian prisoners last April over conditions in Israeli detention,[2] as well as through the administrative detentions of PLC member Khalida Jarrar[3] and of human rights defender Salah Hamouri,[4] and the detention and show-trial of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi.[5] These cases are not individual instances. They are a testimony to Israel’s use of mass arbitrary detentions and arrests as a tool of silencing Palestinians and suppressing their will to bring an end to Israel’s fifty-year occupation of the Palestinian Territory.

In 2017, the Israeli occupying authorities continued the policy of arbitrary detentions and arrests of protected Palestinians. Al-Haq highlights some of these on the occasion of this year’s Palestinian Prisoner’s Day.

Arbitrary Detentions of Protesters to Suppress Peaceful Assemblies in East Jerusalem

Throughout the year, mass detentions and arrests were carried out to suppress peaceful Palestinian protests, especially in occupied East Jerusalem. This was the case during the demonstrations against the installation of metal detectors at the entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque in July 2017,[6] and later in December following the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[7] In July, Al-Haq noted that:

“Over 1,500 Palestinians were injured during clashes and violently suppressed protests, reaching almost half of all injuries recorded in 2016 in just one month. Excessive use of force was coupled by a staggering increase in Israeli detentions of Palestinians, with 880 Palestinians having been detained, often arbitrarily, throughout the month of July.”[8]

Among those detained were religious leaders, including 58 members of the Islamic waqf who worked in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. All were detained at the Maskubiyeh detention centre in Jerusalem, and 55 of them were released the same afternoon or evening, indicating the arbitrary nature of the measure imposed on them.[9]

In December 2017, waves of protests erupted across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), notably in East Jerusalem, which were again violently suppressed by the IOF.[10] Al-Haq had documented the arrest of protesters at Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem:

“the IOF began removing protestors that were peacefully gathered on the steps using force and hitting them. The IOF then arrested seven protestors, males and females, under the pretext of participating in an illegal sit-in and for raising Palestinian flags, and took them to the police station on Salah Al Din.”[11]

At the time, Al-Haq strongly condemned various means imposed on Palestinians to obstruct the right to peaceful assembly, noting that “Palestinians are well aware of the potential repercussions from the IOF for exhibiting any form of dissent, ranging from the closure of cultural institutions to the arrest and heavy sentencing of Palestinian youth.”[12] Addameer described Israel’s escalations in Jerusalem as being linked with “an increase in the use of imprisonment as a means to control a restive population.”[13]

Systematic Unlawful Deportation of Palestinian Prisoners outside of the OPT

Israel continues to illegally transfer Palestinian prisoners into prisons outside of the OPT.[14] Such transfers amount to “[u]nlawful deportation or transfer”,[15] over which the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction as a war crime, “in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes”.[16] This systematic policy[17] continues to be used by the Israeli occupying authorities as a tool to control Palestinian prisoners and their families. As noted last May by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Michael Lynk, “[t]hese transfers create significant barriers to the families of prisoners who wish to visit them, due to the difficulty of obtaining permits to enter Israel, and the often arduous journey families must undertake to reach their relatives”.[18] In addition, families may face harassment and intimidation on the way to prison visits, as was the case in late December 2017 when MK Oren Hazan, a member of the Israeli Parliament, mounted a bus full of Palestinian families on their way to Nafha Prison and verbally assaulted them.[19]

Widespread Use of Administrative Detention and the Boycott of Military Court Proceedings

Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention has been widely criticised by UN human rights experts as a violation of international standards, notably in relation to the right to a fair trial,[20] and the internment conditions set forth in Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk highlighted administrative detention as a form of “imprisonment without charge, trial, conviction or meaningful due process, as well as the possibility of unrestricted renewal” and noted that “Israel’s use of administrative detention is not in compliance with the extremely limited circumstances in which it is allowed under international humanitarian law, and deprives detainees of basic legal safeguards guaranteed by international human rights law”.[21]

With 427 Palestinians currently held without charge or trial in Israeli administrative detention,[22] Palestinian administrative detainees have launched a boycott of military court proceedings in February 2018, to highlight the inherent human rights violations involved in Israel’s military court system in which administrative detainees are denied fundamental due process rights and military court judges lack the necessary requirements of independence and impartiality.[23] As of mid-April 2018, some progress has been achieved after the Israeli Prison Service informed Palestinian administrative detainees that they intend to discuss the policy of administrative detention.[24] However, at the eve of this year’s Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, the boycott remained defiant.[25]

Al-Haq supports the boycott of Israeli military court proceedings and recalls that arbitrary deprivation of liberty is prohibited as a norm of customary international humanitarian law applicable in the OPT.[26] In situations of occupation, civilians may only be detained by the Occupying Power for “imperative reasons of security”.[27] Israel’s use of administrative detention does not meet this strict test and therefore amounts to “unlawful confinement”, which constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime, over which the ICC has jurisdiction, especially when committed as part of a policy.[28] Article 7(1)(e) of the Rome Statute of the ICC further prohibits “[i]mprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law” as a crime against humanity, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.

Accordingly, Al-Haq calls upon the ICC to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, to examine all cases in which international crimes are alleged to have been committed in the OPT, including crimes against Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and to ensure perpetrators are finally held accountable.


[1] Addameer, “On Palestinian Prisoner's Day the Boycott Remains Defiant” (16 April 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/palestinian-prisoners-day-boycott-remains-defiant.

[2] See, for example, Peter Beaumont, “Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian, 27 May 2017), available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/27/mass-palestinian-hunger-strike-israel-ends.

[3] Mondoweiss, “Legislator Khalida Jarrar is detained by Israel in predawn raid, a year after her last imprisonment” (4 July 2017), available at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/07/legislator-detained-imprisonment/. Lubna Masarwa and Dania Akkad, “Israeli court extends Palestinian MP's detention by another six months” (Middle East Eye, 28 December 2018), available at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israeli-court-extends-palestinian-lawmakers-detention-six-months-1544605821.

[4] Ali Abunimah, “Paris breaks silence on Israel’s detention of French citizen Salah Hamouri” (The Electronic Intifada, 26 October 2017), available at: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/paris-breaks-silence-israels-detention-french-citizen-salah-hamouri. Addameer, “Call to Action: 22 Days to Free Salah Hamouri” (5 February 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/call-action-22-days-free-salah-hamouri.

[5] Ali Abunimah, “Ahed Tamimi remains in Israeli prison as “trial” adjourned” (The Electronic Intifada, 13 February 2018), available at: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/ahed-tamimi-remains-israeli-prison-trial-adjourned. Oliver Holmes, “Palestinian Ahed Tamimi accepts prison term plea deal” (The Guardian, 21 March 2018), available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/21/palestinian-ahed-tamimi-accepts-plea-deal-to-serve-eight-months-in-jail. See also, Jaclynn Ashly, “Video shows Ahed Tamimi interrogation in Israeli detention centre” (Aljazeera, 9 April 2018), available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/video-shows-ahed-tamimi-interrogation-israeli-detention-centre-180409094459300.html.

[6] Al-Haq and Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), “International Community must Intervene to End Israel’s Targeting of Jerusalem” (20 July 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/wall-and-jerusalem/1128-international-community-must-intervene-to-end-israels-targeting-of-jerusalem.

[7] Al-Haq, “Suppression of Peaceful Assemblies in Jerusalem” (23 December 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1163-suppression-of-peaceful-assemblies-in-jerusalem.

[8] Al-Haq, “Increase in Palestinians Killed by Israeli Occupation Forces in July 2017” (16 August 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/right-to-life-and-body-integrity/1134-increase-in-palestinians-killed-by-israeli-occupation-forces-in-july-2017.

[9] Al-Haq and Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), “International Community must Intervene to End Israel’s Targeting of Jerusalem” (20 July 2017), p. 2, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/wall-and-jerusalem/1128-international-community-must-intervene-to-end-israels-targeting-of-jerusalem.

[10] Al-Haq, “Suppression of Peaceful Assemblies in Jerusalem” (23 December 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1163-suppression-of-peaceful-assemblies-in-jerusalem.

[11] Al-Haq, “Suppression of Peaceful Assemblies in Jerusalem” (23 December 2017), p. 5, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1163-suppression-of-peaceful-assemblies-in-jerusalem.

[12] Al-Haq, “Suppression of Peaceful Assemblies in Jerusalem” (23 December 2017), p. 7, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1163-suppression-of-peaceful-assemblies-in-jerusalem.

[13] Addameer, “Addameer participates in the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council” (29 March 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/addameer-participates-37th-session-un-human-rights-council.

[14] See, for example, Al-Haq, “UN Special Rapporteur on OPT calls on Israel to comply with international law on detention” (24 May 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/right-to-life-and-body-integrity/1118-un-special-rapporteur-on-opt-calls-on-israel-to-comply-with-international-law-on-detention.

[15] Article 8(2)(a)(vii), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Article 147, Fourth Geneva Convention.

[16] Article 8(1), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

[17] Addameer and BADIL, Fact Sheet, “Deportation as Policy: Palestinian Prisoners & Detainees In Israeli Detention” (18 April 2016), available at: http://www.addameer.org/publications/deportation-policy-palestinian-prisoners-detainees-israeli-detention.

[18] Al-Haq, “UN Special Rapporteur on OPT calls on Israel to comply with international law on detention” (24 May 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/right-to-life-and-body-integrity/1118-un-special-rapporteur-on-opt-calls-on-israel-to-comply-with-international-law-on-detention.

[19] PHROC, “MK Oren Hazan and a Right-Wing Israeli Group Assault Palestinian Families on their way to Visit their Detained Relatives at Nafha Prison” (28 December 2018), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/palestinian-human-rights-organizations/1165-mk-oren-hazan-and-a-right-wing-israeli-group-assault-palestinian-families-on-their-way-to-visit-their-detained-relatives-at-nafha-prison.

[20] Article 14, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

[21] Al-Haq, “UN Special Rapporteur on OPT calls on Israel to comply with international law on detention” (24 May 2017), available at: http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/right-to-life-and-body-integrity/1118-un-special-rapporteur-on-opt-calls-on-israel-to-comply-with-international-law-on-detention.

[22] Addameer, “On Palestinian Prisoner's Day the Boycott Remains Defiant” (16 April 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/palestinian-prisoners-day-boycott-remains-defiant.

[23] Addameer, “Statement: Administrative detainees to boycott military court” (13 February 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/statement-administrative-detainees-boycott-military-court.

[24] Addameer, “Progress with Administrative Detention Boycott: Prisoners call off additional actions” (15 April 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/progress-administrative-detention-boycott-prisoners-call-additional-actions.

[25] Addameer, “On Palestinian Prisoner's Day the Boycott Remains Defiant” (16 April 2018), available at: http://www.addameer.org/news/palestinian-prisoners-day-boycott-remains-defiant.

[26] ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law Database, Rule 99, available at: https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule99. [27] Article 78, Fourth Geneva Convention.

[28] Article 8(2)(a)(vii), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Article 147, Fourth Geneva Convention.